June 2020 Wrap Up

This has not been a very good month unfortunately. A couple of years ago I hurt my back, it took months to recover, and a couple of weeks ago I managed to twinge it again. I’m in pain all the time and had to take a few days off work because I just couldn’t sit at my computer. That also means I’ve not been able to do as much blogging as I had planned and missed several posts that I had planned to write. It’s slowly getting better and I am able to spend some time at my computer now so will be back to blogging a little more regularly again, though I am still in pain.  

At the beginning of the month I finished The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. I was excited to return to this world and it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. While it was good, I didn’t love it as much as the original trilogy.

I also read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I have had waiting on my shelf for several months, as I don’t read much contemporary fiction. I’m very glad I finally read it as it’s a very powerful novel. I had no hesitation giving it 5 stars.    

Fear is the fifth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. I have been working my way through this series quite slowly, though that’s more a reflection on my reading than enjoyment of the books! This book was good but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous ones. I’m still excited to read the final book though.

I just had to read The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White as I love King Arthur legends. This retelling has a really interesting concept that Guinevere is not the real Guinevere, but has taken her place as fiancé to King Arthur so that she can use her magic to protect him. Although I enjoyed it, I only gave it 3 stars. I think perhaps the style was not quite to my taste and there were a lot of unanswered questions still at the end of the book. But I liked it enough that I will definitely be reading the sequel.  

I absolutely adored Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Emma, so decided to read the book. I’m only a little way in but loving it so far.

This month was quite a quiet book buying month for me, which is probably a good thing as I have many already on my shelf that need reading! I received a Word Cloud Classics edition of Emma for my birthday. And bought The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle as part of my research for my next novel. It’s a lovely leather-bound edition with illustrations.

My back pain also put my novel planning on the back burner for a bit unfortunately. But I am still ready to write my King Arthur retelling for the July edition of CampNaNoWriMo! I’m excited to get writing as I am so excited for these characters and this story.  

What books did you enjoy reading this month? Let me know in the comments!  

Book Review: Fear by Michael Grant

Fear by Michael Grant

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2012)

Pages: 576

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Welcome back to the FAYZ! This is Book 5 in the series that Stephen King calls a “Driving, torrential narrative.” Night is falling in the FAYZ. Permanently. The gaiaphage has blotted out the sun and the barrier that surrounds the town of Perdido Beach is turning black. It’s Sam’s worst nightmare. With Astrid still missing and Edilio and Lana struggling to maintain order, Sam and his followers need all the courage they can get. As their world descends into darkness, only real heroes will survive. The GONE series is Lord of the Flies for the 21st century. In turns breathtaking, harrowing, and utterly terrifying. Its complex characters and moral dilemmas will delight fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. This is dystopian fiction at its best.

Fear is the fifth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. We re-join the kids and teenagers trapped inside the FAYZ as they try to survive inside the dome. Now they face a new obstacle – the dome is turning black and will eventually leave the FAYZ in total darkness. This is a suspenseful premise but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous ones in the series.

Just like it’s predecessors, Fear is a fast-paced and suspenseful read. I read it in hardly anytime at all. In this book we also get a few scenes from ‘Outside’ so we get to see how the world has reacted to the appearance of the dome which added an interesting perspective. However, I didn’t find it as gripping as previous instalments.

One thing I do love about this series is seeing how the characters grow and change. In the first book, there appears to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters but as the series progresses and you get more insight into all of them, you see how the lines between good and bad are blurred. They are changed and shaped by their experiences in the FAYZ and boy have these kids been through a lot.

I think some of the reason I didn’t enjoy Fear as much is that I’m starting to feel a bit burnt out with the series. It’s starting to feel a little repetitive. Although each book the characters face different challenges and conflicts, some elements are just the same e.g. kids running around a confined area fighting each other with superpowers. It’s starting to feel like it’s being dragged out too long.

One of the characters, Penny, has the ability to make people see and feel hallucinations like they are real. This happens a lot in the book and it was just too much for me. Most of these scenes made me feel very uncomfortable. The things Penny makes people see are really horrible and it was just really unpleasant to read.

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as previous ones, I’m still invested in these characters and want to see how everything will end in the final book, Light.

Books I Want to Read in 2020

I don’t set myself a monthly TBR as I’m more of a mood reader. I like to read what takes my fancy, but I do always have some books in mind at the beginning of the year that I want to read at some point in the coming months. This year I’m going to try and read a good mix of new releases, books waiting on my shelf, and books released a while ago that I haven’t read yet.

There are many series I’m midway through that I’d like to continue reading. I’ve been making my way through Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’m looking forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse as I still need to read Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars. A book I wanted to read last year was Fear by Michael Grant – the fifth book in the Gone series – but that’s one I didn’t get round to. I only have the last book in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites trilogy left to read – The Midnight Star – so I’d like to be able to finish that series this year. And of course I want to continue reading Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Next on my radar is Lady Midnight.

I have on my shelf a few books released in 2019 that I haven’t read yet. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer are two in particular I really want to read in 2020. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zao came out right at the end of 2019 and I’m planning on reading that this month for the Illumicrate monthly readalong.

The 2020 releases I definitely want to read this year are The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman and The Damned by Renée Ahdieh. Both are sequels to books I read in 2019. I’d also like to discover some new authors in 2020 too.  

Let’s see how many of these I actually end up reading! What books are you planning on reading this year?

Book Review: Lies by Michael Grant

61c1539c28b0c6b76a92c02b9c88c34eLies by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: 2011 by Egmont Books (first published 2010)

Pages: 472

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

66 Hours, 52 Minutes

Suddenly, it’s a world without adults and normal has crashed and burned. When life as you know it ends at 15, everything changes.

Tensions are growing in the FAYZ. The mutants are under attack. Food is scarce. Sam’s gone AWOL.

At night, a solitary figure roams the streets– the ghost of a boy with a whip hand, haunting the dreams of those he has tormented.

Then the town is deliberately set on fire… And through the flames, Sam sees the figure he dreads most–Drake. But that’s impossible: Drake is dead.

Lies is the third book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. I really wouldn’t recommend leaving big gaps between reading the books in this series. I read the first book in 2014 and the second book, Hunger, in 2015, so it’s been three years since I read it. There are so many characters and their individual storylines and arcs to keep track of, that it was hard to dip back in after so long away from the series. I read a summary of the first two books online which was helpful, but not quite the same as when you can remember more of the detail. So if you read this series, don’t leave it too long between reading each book like I have!

This is one of the grimmest YA series I have read. It really proves YA isn’t just about clichés and love triangles. It can be gritty, dark and meaningful. It’s so interesting watching how things play out in the FAYZ over the course of the series (it really is like a modern Lord of the Flies, with superpowers). It digs deep into how people would react in that kind of situation, how desperate they could become, and how ‘normal’ just collapses and becomes something totally different, something that’s more about survival than living. In this book, Astrid is still trying to get rules and laws into place to give the FAYZ more order, so life isn’t just about survival.

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